Some hospitals face challenges when implementing an antimicrobial stewardship program, and a new study has identified some of the key strategies to overcome them.
Researchers interviewed 12 antibiotic stewardship leaders at four prominent U.S. programs, and three trends emerged:
- The structure of these programs is evolving. The most effective stewardship approaches have moved away from a top-down approach and engage frontline pharmacists and clinicians, according to the study, which was published in the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety.
- Using information technology is crucial. Integrated IT systems allow for real-time data sharing and monitoring that can flag risks and optimize therapies.
- Barriers to technology integration pose a challenge. An ongoing lack of interoperability throughout the industry and a limited database for analysis can both limit the effectiveness of IT in antibiotic stewardship, the study found.
Moving away from a top-down structure is especially crucial when working with physician groups, according to the study, as these groups have traditionally resisted antibiotic stewardship efforts.
In an accompanying editorial, Arjun Srinivasan, M.D., associate director for healthcare associated infection prevention programs at the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, writes that the research offers crucial guidance on how antibiotic stewardship programs can be implemented "safely and effectively."
"As hospitals work quickly to implement and expand stewardship programs, it will be increasingly important to identify promising approaches and key barriers," Srinivasan writes. "ASPs are growing up, and the key now is to ensure that their growth is sustained and productive.
Curbing antibiotic prescriptions, particularly broad-spectrum, powerful drugs, is the main strategy to fight the spread of deadly superbugs. Groups like the National Quality Forum have issued guidelines to help providers improve their antibiotic stewardship strategies.